The miniature sanctuary

Posted in Sanctuary Spotlight at 12:12 pm by ACR&S

Although the main sanctuary of ACR&S is up in Wisconsin, I do have several animals classed as Sanctuary living with me in North Carolina. They were adopted into my household because they were unadoptable, and because I am a sucker and couldn’t let them leave. Although these animals are officially part of ACR&S, as part of sanctuary care I provide them with all of their food and vet care to ease their burden on the rescue.

I have a total of 4 guinea pigs, and 2 rats that are classed as sanctuary residents due to their long term health or behavioral problems. The rats were my most recent addition, after the last time I officially said “no more ‘keeper’ animals”. (You would be surprised how few times “no more animals” actually means “no more until the next one that has nowhere to go”. Or maybe not.)

Phedre entered my life shortly before Christmas 2007. She had a pretty typical story for a rat. Someone had bought her from Petco to feed to their snake. Unfortunately for that person, she was way smarter than they were, and escaped the snake, and then the tank, and ran amok in their house for a couple of weeks.

When she was inevitably captured, they decided to take her back to the Petco and chuck her back into the bin with all the other rats. Fortunately for her, one of our volunteers overheard the saga at work, and agreed to take her (thinking that the rescue could find her a home once she was rehabbed a bit).

Unfortunately for Phedre she had (like most pet store rodents) a rather severe respiratory infection that had raged untreated while she was fending for herself in their house. Once our volunteer got her, she was immediately put on antibiotics. Because of this, she stayed at my house during the Christmas holiday so I could medicate her. That’s always how they get you.

The second night she was there, I headed to the bathroom to medicate her, and then realized I had forgotten to bring the syringe. I plopped her down in the tub to run and explore while I went to fetch it, and she stood on her back legs, reached for me, and let out a heart-rending cry. I knew she wouldn’t be able to leave my house.

Unfortunately for poor Phedre, her respiratory infection was so severe and had gone untreated for so long that it scarred her lungs, and now she permenantly wheezes. She gets a steroid/bronchiodialattor combination daily to help her breathe more easily, but we knew it would be nearly impossible to find a home who would buy her medication, especially since she was already around a year old by the time we exhausted our supply of antibiotic treatments. Rats with lung scarring also typically don’t live as long as ‘normal’ rats. Their expected lifespan is 1.5-2 years, in general, instead of the longer 2-3 years for a healthy rat.

So she did get to stay with me. Typical rats are very effusive and friendly. They like human interaction, and most enjoy being held and played with. Because of her early days, Phedre is afraid to be out of her cage. She’ll cower in your arms until she can return, and actively tries to climb back in if you take her out. She shakes in fear at being let loose on a couch, and ignores all food until she can go back to her safe place.

OM NOM NOMBut she is still a rat, and she needed a companion. Rats are incredibly social creatures, and regardless of how much love, attention, and spoiling she received, one of her own kind to snuggle with, lay on, and share food with was essential. It took several months to find her a companion, but we did finally find a person doing private rehabilitation of rats, and I adopted Cecilie to live with Phedre.

Cecilie is about as opposite to Phedre as day is to night. Phedre is calm (by neccesity, with her poor breathing), demure, and careful. She grooms herself extensively, and makes sure that every single hair is in the correct position. Cecilie stampedes around like a bull, often falls into her food, and is frequently stained odd colors by the day’s treats. But they do love each other, and they’re frequently found curled up in a big rat ball snoring away. They follow each other everywhere, and Cecilie is helping Phedre to become more outgoing, and enjoy her treats (as seen to the left).

1 Comment

  1. Searching for happy endings » More Craigslist Woes said,

    October 10, 2008 at 5:46 am

    […] also got bitten by Craiglist this week.  Part of my sanctuary is a rat named Phedre who was meant to be snake food.  I took in a friend for her, named Cecilie, who is hearty and hale […]